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Home / Science / NASA Cool Illustrations of Jupiter Lightning and Atmospheric Mushrooms / Boing Boing

NASA Cool Illustrations of Jupiter Lightning and Atmospheric Mushrooms / Boing Boing



Piloting a craft through Jupiter’s atmosphere would be very difficult because of the massive bolts of “shallow lightning” and the equally terrifying giant “mushrooms” of water and ammonia falling like hail. To celebrate Juno’s 9th birthday, NASA shared some cute illustrations and a visualization of what it would feel like flying through a Jovian storm.

The fungus finds a mystery of Jupiter’s “extinct” ammonia. The scientists believed that the planet had more ammonia than was observed by sensors:

A second paper, published yesterday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, predicts the bizarre production of 2/3 water and 1/3 ammonia gas that becomes the seed of Jovian hailstones, known as mushrooms. Composed of layers of water-ammonia moisture and ice covered by a thick crust of water ice, the fungi form in a similar way as hail on Earth – growing larger as they move up and down through the atmosphere.

“Eventually, the mushrooms get so big, even the up-to-date crafts can’t hold them, and they fall deeper into the atmosphere, encountering even warmer temperatures, where they eventually completely evaporate,” said Tristan Guillot, a co-investigator of Juno from Université Côte d’Azur in Nice, France and lead author of the second paper. “Their action reduces ammonia and water down to deep levels in the planet’s atmosphere. That explains why we do not see many of them in these places with the Juno Microwave Radiometer.”

Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Heidi N. Becker / Koji Kuramura





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